Torn Ear – memorable name, memorable elephant. In fact, he was one of Kenya’s biggest bulls until he tragically died in February of this year, when poachers shot him with poisoned arrows.
Since the early 90s, Torn Ear had often been seen around the Ol Donyo Lodge waterhole and with time, he became so trusting and used to humans that he could almost be touched. Each tusk weighted around 45kg, which is not only unique, but made him stand out as an iconic bull and unfortunately equally attractive to poachers.
Richard Bonham from Big Life Foundation was one of the first to spot Torn Ear when wounded on his stomach in the exact killing zone that is often targeted by poison arrow poachers. Fearing the worst, Richard flew to Tsavo to collect Doctor Poghorn, who lead the KWS / Sheldrick Mobile Vet Unit, and would be the best person to treat the injured animal. On removing the arrowhead from Torn Ear’s stomach however, they realized that the injury was too severe and there was no hope for survival.
In his statement on February 8th, Richard said: “I think of him as a friend of 20 years. Emotions are running deep, as we failed in our mission to protect him. But the greatest sadness is the reality that Torn Ear was probably one of a hundred or so elephant that died yesterday to feed the ivory trade.”
Photo copyright: Richard Bonham